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New Polls Bring New Lows for Bush

The new Pew Research Center poll gives Bush his worst approval rating ever in that poll: just 43 percent, with 50 percent disapproval. And the new Time/SRBI poll has his rating at 46 percent approval/47 percent disapproval, also a low in that poll.

The Time poll has Bush's economic approval rating at 38/56, also a new low; his Iraq approval rating at 41/55, tied for his lowest ever; his Social Security rating at an abysmal 31/59; and even his rating on the war on terrorism at an unimpressive 53/42. The SRBI report on the poll points out that Bush is losing substantial ground among constituencies key to his narrow victory last November:

Central to Bush's November victory, according to the exit polls, was Bush's edge among older voters, his narrowing of the traditional Republican gender gap with female voters, and by evenly splitting the independent vote with Kerry. With Bush now barnstorming to promote his plans to revamp Social Security and with the shift away from terrorism as a dominant issue, older voters, women and independents have turned negative on Bush.

Among Americans age 65 and over, 55% now disapprove of the President's performance, with only 36% approving. Just before the November election, 51% of older registered voters approved of Bush. Greasing the skid, older Americans give Bush a very negative 25% approval 65% disapproval on Social Security. Older voters divide evenly on Bush's handling of terrorism (46% approve 44% disapprove).

Only 42% of women now approve of Bush, down from 51% just before the election. Males still approve of Bush's performance, 51% - 45%, down from 56% - 42% among registered voters in October. Women overwhelmingly disapprove of Bush's handling of Social Security by 34 percentage points, 27% approve 61% disapprove. Women split almost evenly on Bush's handling of terrorism (48% approve 47% disapprove).

Independents now disapprove of Bush by 13 points, 41% approve 54% disapprove. Almost 3 in 5 independents give Bush negative scores on Social Security (59% disapprove), Iraq (60% disapprove), and handling the economy (60% disapprove).

The poll also shows a 59-28 margin against Republican efforts in the Senate to eliminate the use of the filibuster against Bush's judicial nominees. And, by 53-37, the public says that other states should follow California's lead in funding all types of stem cell research.

Two just-released state polls underscore the extent to which the political winds have shifted against Bush. In Minnesota, a swing state that Bush narrowly lost to Kerry in 2004, the latest Star Tribune Minnesota poll shows the following:

With a rising number of Minnesotans unhappy about the nation's direction, President Bush's job-approval rating in the state hit an all-time low of 42 percent last week, according to the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

It's the lowest job-approval rating for a president in the Minnesota Poll in more than 12 years.

The poll found Minnesotans in a sour mood about the direction of the country:

Fifty-five percent said the country has gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track, a 6 percentage point increase in four months.

Overall, the president's job-approval rating in Minnesota has declined by 9 points since January, the last time it was measured by the poll....

No president has fared so poorly in the Minnesota Poll since Bush's father received a 32 percent job-approval rating in October 1992, a month before he lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton.

A new Tribune/WGN-TV poll in Illinois, where Bush was soundly defeated by Kerry in 2004, shows him losing support even in his relatively strong areas of the state:

President Bush's handling of the economy and sagging support for the war in Iraq have caused his support to erode further in Illinois since last fall, when he won re-election but lost the state to his Democratic rival by a wide margin.

Approval of the president's overall performance--41 percent in a statewide Tribune/WGN-TV poll--has slipped even in Chicago's collar counties and Downstate, which were once more likely to back Bush. A similar poll last October showed Bush's job approval rating at 45 percent....

The president, of course, wasn't starting with a strong base of support in Illinois. The state's 5.27 million voters sided with Democrat John Kerry by a margin of more than 500,000 votes. Bush won 44.5 percent of the vote to Kerry's 54.8 percent, one of the president's poorest performances nationally.

And since the election, the poll found, his support has softened even further. And it has slumped in his erstwhile strongholds.

Before the election, a statewide survey by Market Shares Corp. indicated that 57 percent of Downstate voters approved of the president's overall job performance. In the latest survey, just 47 percent of respondents Downstate approved.

And what of Bush's strenuous efforts on behalf on his Social Security plan?

When asked about Bush's plan to let younger workers set aside some of the payroll taxes they pay for Social Security for private retirement savings accounts, 47 percent called it a bad idea, 33 percent a good idea.

Just as surveys have found nationally, younger voters are more likely to support the president's plan. Yet even among the youngest voters in Illinois, those aged 18-34, the president has failed to find majority support for his plan, with only 43 percent calling it a good idea.

My, my, sounds like there are some testy voters out there in the heartland. And, for that matter, all over the country these days. Voters were expecting something better out of Bush's second term and they're clearly not getting it. Until they do, these ratings are not likely to change and may well get worse.